Roman Abramovich could make a return to football with a potential investment in Spartak Moscow by steel and mining giant Evraz, a company where the billionaire has a shareholding, a report in Russia has claimed.
Abramovich officially sold English Premier League team Chelsea last month, ending his 19-year tenure as owner after he was slapped with sanctions by the UK government over his alleged ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
RB Sport reported on Tuesday that Abramovich could be linked to a new club if steel and mining company Evraz – where he is a significant shareholder – acquires Spartak Moscow.
The Russian outlet claimed that “sources in the football market are talking about a possible sale of [Spartak],” but admitted that this was not a prospect “in the short term.”
That has not stopped the Russian media from discussing the possibility of Abramovich becoming involved at a club which is currently majority-owned by businessman Leonid Fedun, co-founder of energy giant Lukoil.
Fueling discussion over Fedun’s future was the announcement this week that the 66-year-old was leaving his post as Lukoil vice president “due to reaching retirement age and family circumstances,” although the businessman insisted that this would not affect his commitments to Spartak.
Responding to the rumors of a possible sale, the Spartak press service said that Fedun’s recent comments “remained relevant,” while a spokesman at Evraz denied that the company was “considering any deals to acquire sports teams or clubs.”
Spartak are Russia’s most successful club ever in domestic terms, and have won a record 22 Soviet/Russian top-tier league titles down the years.
The recent claims are not the first time Abramovich has been linked to a potential purchase of a new club since he was forced to part ways with Chelsea.
Reports have claimed that the Russian billionaire was keen on Turkish Super Lig team Goztepe and Spanish La Liga outfit Valencia, before representatives for the 55-year-old dismissed the rumors out of hand on both occasions.
One argument against any potential Abramovich involvement with Spartak would be the friendship he enjoys with Evgeny Giner, who is president of Spartak’s bitter rivals CSKA Moscow.
Abramovich’s former company Sibneft were previously CSKA sponsors, and there were claims of a conflict of interest with his Chelsea ownership which triggered a UEFA investigation in 2004, although the billionaire was ultimately cleared.
When it became clear back in March that Abramovich would have to sell Chelsea, he was urged by Russian State Duma Deputy Dmitry Svishchev to build a super club on the same scale in his homeland.
“I think now is the time to improve our sports clubs at the expense of our own resources. And the experience of people like Abramovich will undoubtedly be valuable for our sports industry,” the politician said.